Eales said Atlanta United's eye on Argentine talent began before Martino was hired and it will continue now that he has gone after leading the Five Stripes to the MLS title in their second season.
“We’ve had some South American talent coming in,” he said. “And having Tata Martino as coach is someone that’s going to be a cherry on top when you’re trying to recruit. I’ve said it before, we had our profile, we recruited Tito Villalba before Tata Martino was a twinkle in the eye of this club. We’ll continue to do that. Top talent in Argentina continues to get linked to us and continues to get put forward even though Tata’s announced a long time ago that he was leaving."
River Plate star Pity Martinez has said he will join Atlanta United in 2019. It just has to move Miguel Almiron, one of its three Designated Players, during England's January window to accommodate Martinez.
Following the MLS Cup win over Portland, the departing Martino gave an endorsement to Atlanta United's management for the support he received and facilities it offered -- which would be attractive to any coach.
The coaching search netted 50 candidates, of which 15 were considered strong candidates and seven were interviewed. The assumption was that Atlanta United would replace Martino with another Argentine. Names mentioned include Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who won't return as Boca Juniors coach in 2019, and Jorge Sampaoli, who has since been named the coach at Brazil's Santos.
"From my perspective," added Eales, "Atlanta United is a big club in North America with great facilities and a marvelous arena. We’ve got an amazing fan base that ranks in the top 15 in the world. And now we’ve got a top coach in Frank de Boer. We’re in a great position to be able to recruit all over the globe.”
De Boer, 48, won a record four Dutch Eredivisie titles in four season as head coach at Ajax, where he worked on deals that sent Ajax stars Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen to Tottenham, where Eales was director of football administration. De Boer's next two coaching stints were less successful. Indeed, both were disasters -- De Boer lasted less than three months at Inter Milan in 2016 and Crystal Palace in 2017.
Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra believes those setbacks will provide de Boer with some extra motivation to succeed in Atlanta.
“I found it really interesting during the whole process because it felt like he had a chip on his shoulder,” Bocanegra said. “It feels like he has something to prove. And I like that. I like that he’s had some success, he’s had some difficulties, but he’s really interested. He’s up for this challenge.”
2018 MLS coaching changes:
NYCFC. Patrick Vieira --> Domenec Torrent.
Orlando City. Jason Kreis --> Bobby Murphy (interim) --> James O'Connor.
NY Red Bulls. Jesse Marsch --> Chris Armas.
LA Galaxy. Sigi Schmid --> Dominic Kinnear (interim) --> ?
San Jose. Mikael Stahre --> Steve Ralston (interim) --> Matias Almeyda.
Vancouver. Carl Robinson --> Craig Dalrymple (interim) --> Marc dos Santos.
FC Dallas. Oscar Pareja --> Luchi Gonzalez
Columbus. Gregg Berhalter --> ?
Atlanta United. Gerardo Martino --> Frank de Boer